Amherst residents gather for holiday-themed Merry Maple Festival

By Stefan Geller

Collegian File Photo
(Collegian File Photo)

Over 100 Amherst residents came together Friday in the town common to celebrate the holiday season as a community for the 40th annual Merry Maple festival. The festival was organized by the Amherst Chamber of Commerce and the Amherst Business Improvement District.

According to Kim Alli, marketing and membership director of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, the festival took around three weeks of planning.

“It’s about getting families together, the camaraderie of the town, encouraging patronage within the town,” Alli said.

Starting at 3 p.m. and going until 6:30 p.m. the holiday celebration began with face painting inside of the fire station, then moved to the steps of town hall as the Amherst Middle School chorus performed in front of a crowd of residents.

While the students performed, Muddy Brook Farm provided horse-drawn hay rides, TD Bank gave out hats and firemen sold cider and doughnuts provided by the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

Afterward, Santa Claus arrived riding on a fire truck, escorted by the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band, and the event closed out with the lighting of the maple tree in the common.

The atmosphere of togetherness within the town brought on by the Merry Maple Festival was a recurring source of joy amongst the organizers and the residents of Amherst.

“I think that what’s important about it is it’s a really huge community-wide event, everybody just looks forward to it every year,” said Sarah la Cour, the executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District. “It just brings everybody together, young, old. It’s just a fun time.”

Meredith Sen, a town resident who brought her two children to the festival said she felt a similar sense of community at the event, saying that her favorite part of the festival was “bringing everyone together to celebrate the oncoming holiday season.”

The event also served as a kickoff to Greeting Card Day, a local holiday centered on deals at Amherst businesses.

“It generates more income, and it raises awareness about the small businesses in town,” said Alli.

All activities were free, while the food and hot beverages had to be purchased.

The festival was sponsored by TD Bank, Muddy Brook Farm, Atkins Farms Country Market, Applewood, The Works Bakery Cafe and The Mercantile.

Stefan Geller can be reached at [email protected]